Saturday, 8 June 2013

My son has headed off on the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award.

I have just dropped my son off at a car park somewhere close to the English countryside. He is doing his Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award this weekend and so will spend today and tomorrow hiking, camping tonight.

His trial weekend, which took place a few weeks ago, was a weekend that started with the two of us reaching melt down point before 8.30 in the morning. It continued in that vein with hideous weather and totally inappropriate food supplies.

Like a fool I had asked him to type in the co-ordinates for the start location and he nonchalantly typed in the wrong ones. As I drove down Barnet High Street with 10 minutes to go before his start time I realised the error and chose that moment to go completely mental. "Coping under pressure does not seem to be one of my stronger points ..." I remember thinking to myself. Having screamed and sworn at him I typed the correct address and drove like a maniac ( yes, I know ... totally irresponsible) to the right car park this time.

Off he headed with his rucksack, into the wilds of Hertfordshire. He had worked out with his team the menu that they would eat for the 48 hours and with true middle class teenager ignorance of hardship of any kind, or indeed the nutritional requirements of walking for 8 hours a day, they had packed a combination of Super noodles, Haribos and that staple of the trekker's breakfast ... croissants.

On the Saturday night, as I lay wrapped in my warm duvet, I listened to the driving rain beating against my window panes and thought of him in his two man tent.

We picked him up from another bleak car park the next day. As the groups arrived, walking hunched against the horizontal rain, their faces were grey from exhaustion and hunger. The general consensus was that this was the worst weekend of their lives ... a rude awakening to the hardships of life on the open road. Teenager after teenager groaned as they removed their rucksack and more than once I heard the words "I am never doing that again!!"

But they are doing it again and, to be honest, I am proud that he has headed off with the backpack my husband used to travel around the world, with not the smallest hesitation or worry. He has learnt a lot from that first, miserable outing and I am optimistic about the next 48 hours! He was up early ( admittedly only to get a last hour of X Box play in), but hey, he was up! He showered, cut his toenails ( to try and avoid the ghastly blisters he suffered last time) ate sausages for breakfast, and packed a totally different bag of food. This time he has a decent packed lunch, trekkers food in foil boil in the bag packets, Kendal mint cake, water in a metal container ... He has put his walking boots on properly instead of sliding his feet into them like slippers and not doing the laces up properly ( I did tell him, but did he listen the first time??)

So ... we shall see how this expedition pans out. I hope it goes well. This is the start of him growing up, becoming a young man of the world rather than my baby. I am proud of him.

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